"LionHeart"

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My family probably gets a big chuckle every time I review a book on this site, given that they can probably count on both hands how many books I read while growing up. I come from a family that is very musical and extremely well read. Somewhere in the gene pool, there was a mix-up. I possess absolutely no musical talent whatsoever, nor do I have any desire to be musically inclined. I like to listen to music but have no wish to ever produce it myself. That’s what iPods are for.

I was also much more interested in watching television than reading a book. In my childhood, I would completely memorize each program from the previous year’s Indianapolis 500, but place an open book in front of me and I would either knock it away or immediately find myself falling asleep. It didn’t get much better as a young adult. Sports Illustrated and Playboy were about as in-depth as I got (keeping in mind that I only read Playboy for articles about stereos and such).

For the past twenty years or so, I’ve actually become somewhat of a reader. My subject matter isn’t very pretentious. I don’t read philosophy, psychology or self-help books. In a rare occurrence, you might catch me reading a novel, but not often. Most of the books I read are historic and factual biographies. My favorite subjects (in order) are anything involving IndyCar, the early days of the space program and any other sports.

The problem is, the only chance I get to read is when I climb into bed at night. It takes a while to read a three hundred-page book, when I start dosing off after about a page and a half. By the time I finish a book, I’ve completely forgotten what happened at the beginning. But since I started this site, I’ve managed to finish and review several books here. Some have been slightly disappointing, while others – such as Gentlemen, Start Your Engines by Wilbur Shaw and Along For The Ride by Dorie Sweikert (Bob Sweikert’s widow) – were outstanding and worth a future re-read.

This is the first time that I’ve reviewed a book that I’ve never read or even picked up. Appropriately enough, it’s filled with mostly pictures – my kind of book. It was recommended by longtime reader of this site “Bent Wickerbill”, whose judgment I trust immensely. I first met Mr. Wickerbill at the race at Barber Motorsports Park in 2010. We met again that May at Indianapolis. If you’ve read some of his comments, you know he and I do not always agree – and he’s been quick to point that out. But I do not question his passion for IndyCar racing one bit.

That’s why when he sent me a link this past weekend to a book he had just bought, I made sure to take notice. Based on his comments and what I saw on the website, I knew that this book was an instant classic and a “must have” for any serious fan of the IZOD IndyCar Series.

The book is entitled LionHeart and is a pictorial essay of the late Dan Wheldon with photography by the author Michael Voorhees. Now before anyone starts chirping that Mr. Voorhees is a scavenger looking to cash in on Dan Wheldon’s fatal injury, the book was released in February 2010 – over a year and a half before the accident that took Wheldon’s life. The race weekend photography is outstanding. Those that are a bit more eclectic than I am will tell you the black & white photography of Wheldon away from the track is outstanding as well. It may be, but there are just a few too many photos of Wheldon with no shirt for my liking. It may be excellent photography, but that kind of thing is not really my cup of tea.

There are enough high-quality pictures of Wheldon racing at speed to make up for any artsy message the others may have sent. It doesn’t take too many pages of photos to tell that Mr. Voorhees is an excellent motorsports photographer.

Although the book is a bit pricey ($59), that’s not bad for a coffee table book filled with so many excellent pictures. Wouldn’t that be better than having the obligatory Martha Stewart book taking up valuable space on your coffee table?

It may be too late to order it for your hard-to-buy-for IndyCar fan for Christmas, but you can always take back that hideous reindeer sweater that Aunt Catherine gave you and have it by New Years. You can check out LionHeart for yourself here.

Thanks for the recommendation, Mr. Wickerbill.

George Phillips

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8 Responses to “"LionHeart"”

  1. Bent Wickerbill Says:

    Hey George,
    BTW… On your recommendation, I have read :
    1. Gentlemen, Start Your Engines by Wilbur Shaw
    2. Along For The Ride by Dorie Scweikert (Bob Sweikert’s widow)
    Both very good books…

    As you say, the book is a little pricey and there may be a few shots of Danny Boy that were framed more with the ladies in mind than us guys, but it is a fine high quality compilation. Also keep in mind that Blurb.com does not generally produce large quantity printings of the books they publish, but rather prints and binds each book as they are ordered. Not the most cost saving method of printing, however, it makes it possible for more books from a variety of areas to become available to the consumer. It also allows the average person to print sample books of there own writing or for anyone to create a book or photo album on any subject for any reason.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours Geroge, as always, thanks very much for another year of great Indy Car writing.

    Slainte, Bent….

  2. I bought the book when it 1st came out and was lucky enough to get it autographed at a race. It’s not a pure racing book, but it did show that Dan had talents beyond the race track.

    I’m your opposite, George; I’ve been a voracious reader my whole life and only recently taken a great interest in motorsports. One racing book that I read in 6th grade stuck with me though. it has been out of print for decades, so you have to look online at used book dealers. “30 Days in May: the Indy 500″ by Hal Higdon. It’s the story of the 1970 Indy 500 and is worth finding and reading.

    Hal Higdon also wrote a bio of Johnny Rutherford around the same time, which is also out of print, but worth finding.

    Another book worth finding is “The Unfair Advantage”, by Mark Donohue. It is his autobiography which gives you a great overview of the pre-computer engineering days of racing. It also gives a lot of insight into how Roger Penske works. Fascinating book.

    My final recommendation for a racing book is a work of fiction, which revolves around racing. “The Art of Racing in the Rain” is a great book told from the viewpoint of a dog. I don’t want to tell you more and spoil the book.

    As always this is IMNSHO and YMMV.

    • Oilpressure Says:

      I’ve read two of the three – “30 Days In May” and “The Art of Racing in the Rain”. Both are excellent reads and “Racing in the Rain” is actually being made into a movie. The Donohue book is on my list, but I still have a few on my shelf I need to get through first.

  3. It sounds great and I will have to get it, but I am still a bit broken hearted about losing Dan and I wish that the book included his last triumph at the 100th Anniversary of the Indianapolis 500. Maybe there will be a post script in a later issue.

    • Bent Wickerbill Says:

      I agree John and it, the book as well done as it is, is somewhat difficult to look at without getting a lump in ones throat…

  4. DW Lionheart Fan Says:

    I received two (2) copies of Dan Wheldon’s book “Lionheart” for Christmas and….I LOVE IT. Its great to see so many high quality images of Dan so full of gusto and living in the moment. Miss him….

  5. George,
    Knowing youur interest in Indycar books, I thought you might enjoy reading another Indycar book. It’s a short read. It’s the homemade book my 7 year old made for Christmas.
    You can view the book here:
    http://thebackmarker.com/The_Backmarker_Blog/Blog/Entries/2012/1/6_Watch_Out_Donald_Davidson!.html

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